Simpson: Fix the deficit or your grandkids will pick grit with the chickens

February 19, 2010

Newly minted Republican deficit commissioner Alan Simpson has a message for Americans: if you don’t want your grandkids picking grit with the chickens, better ignore soundbite politics and get lawmakers to find real solutions to the deficit.

President Barack Obama Thursday named Simpson, a former Wyoming senator, and Erskine Bowles, the head of the University of North Carolina, to lead a bipartisan panel searching for ways to cut the deficit.

OBAMA/Obama called Simpson “a flinty Wyoming truth-teller.”

The former lawmaker quickly embarked on some truth-telling.

Appearing with Bowles on “PBS NewsHour,” Simpson was asked about Republicans who believed that tax cuts were needed now, even if they raised the deficit in the short term.

“I’m not smoking that same pipe,” he replied.

Both he and Bowles said everything would be on the table — from tax increases to program cuts — as they talked to members of both parties about how to bring down Washington’s record budget deficits.

“We have a deficit-to-GDP ratio today of 10.6 percent,” said Bowles, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who helped negotiate the last balanced budget deal.

Bowles said the interest on the national debt over the next decade would increase by $650 billion.

“That’s $650 billion we could spend on innovation, on research, on education,” he said. “If we don’t do things like that, we’re not going to be able to compete in a knowledge-based global economy. This is a big, big issue.”

Asked how they could accomplish anything in bitterly partisan Washington, Simpson said, “If we’re going to use flash words like cutting children’s benefits or cutting veterans or raising taxes, it will be a tougher struggle.”

Scare tactics and gotcha politics won’t get the job done.

“This is sound-bite business. And that’s great. That gets you re-elected,” Simpson said. “But it won’t help the country.”

He said he would prefer to deal with facts rather than hot-button scare tactics.

He said the last time Congress tweaked the Social Security insurance program for retirees, they adjusted the payroll tax by just a tenth of a percent.

“If that makes people shriek and go over the edge of the cliff,” he said with a shrug. “You have two choices with Social Security. You either raise the payroll tax or decrease the benefits.”

Either that or adjusting benefit levels based on affluence, a proposal guaranteed to anger retirees.

“Try that one on,” said Simpson. “Man, oh, man, there’s a big one.”

“But the rest of it is B.S.,” he said, “and if the people are really ingesting B.S. all day long, their grandchildren will be picking grit with the chickens.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Obama shares a laugh with a deficit commissioners Bowles and Simpson)

2 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

[...] Simpson: Fix the deficit or your grandkids will pick grit with the chickens February 19, 2010 By CMAC Easy AdSense by UnrealNewly minted Republican deficit commissioner Alan Simpson has a message for Americans: if you don’… [...]

shirts talk

Posted by xlsm11 | Report as abusive

I’m from California, and I’m glad Alan Simpson is gone from office. What an absolute derelict. I hope he still gets things, cause I sure wish he would read this.

From a man in Montana who – like the rest of us – has had enough! He points out in a very pointed manner a good example of why we need term limits for members of our congress.

Senator Alan Simpson calls seniors in America, “The Greediest Generation”…..And gets this letter from one of his constituents…..

Hey Alan,
Let’s get a few things straight…
1. As a career politician, you have been on the public dole for FIFTY YEARS…
2. I have been paying Social Security taxes for 48 YEARS (since I was 15 years old. I am now 63)…
3. My Social Security payments, and those of millions of other Americans, were safely tucked away in an interest bearing account for decades until you political pukes decided to raid the account and give OUR money to a bunch of zero ambition losers in return for votes, thus bankrupting the system and turning Social Security into a Ponzi scheme that would have made Bernie Madoff proud…
4. Recently, just like Lucy & Charlie Brown, you and your ilk pulled the proverbial football away from millions of American seniors nearing retirement and moved the goalposts for full retirement from age 65 to age 67. NOW, you and your shill commission is proposing to move the goalposts YET AGAIN…
5. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying into Medicare from Day One, and now you morons propose to change the rules of the game. Why? Because you idiots mismanaged other parts of the economy to such an extent that you need to steal money from Medicare to pay the bills…
6. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying income taxes our entire lives, and now you propose to increase our taxes yet again. Why? Because you incompetent bastards spent our money so profligately that you just kept on spending even after you ran out of money. Now, you come to the American taxpayers and say you need more to pay of YOUR debt…
To add insult to injury, you label us “greedy” for calling “bullshit” on your incompetence. Well, ‘Captain Bullshit,’ I have a few questions for YOU…
1. How much money have you earned from the American taxpayers during your pathetic 50-year political career?
2. At what age did you retire from your pathetic political career, and how much are you receiving in annual retirement benefits from the American taxpayers?
3. How much do you pay for YOUR government provided health insurance?
4. What cuts in YOUR retirement and healthcare benefits are you proposing in your disgusting deficit reduction proposal, or, as usual, have you exempted yourself and your political cronies?
It is you, Captain Bullshit, and your political co-conspirators who are “greedy”. It is you and they who have bankrupted America and stolen the American dream from millions of loyal, patriotic taxpayers. And for what? Votes. That’s right, sir. You and yours have bankrupted America for the sole purpose of advancing your pathetic political careers. You know it, we know it, and you know that we know it.
And you can take that to the bank, you miserable son of a bitch!

Posted by brandywine3 | Report as abusive